Birds of Paradise Sculpture


He held my hand walking through the parking lot.  It’s been awhile since a male over the age of seven has held my hand like that.  Arthur is a gentleman, raised in Europe with very traditional values.  He is the husband of my best friend Doris.

He is peaceful on this sunny day as we follow his wife to a doctor’s appointment.  On this first day of my vacation, I don’t notice much of a change in him since my visit three months ago. That was a very emotional visit, as Doris was having radiation on her nose, and worrying about the impact of her personal health on his care.

Doris and I worked together for over ten years but did not become close friends until they were preparing to leave Massachusetts for a new life in Florida. We bonded over the care of her mother and her transition into an assisted living facility, a mirror of my activities the year before.

Thank you, Jet Blue, for your daily flights from Worcester to Orlando.

The three of us love good food and people watching.  We get both as we sample the small restaurants within the Orlando area code. None of us like large, noisy restaurants.  He loves shrimp and grits and has a quick nap on the couch when we get home.  We eat Cajun, Chinese, pub food at a local brewery, and Cuban sandwiches in the village of Lake Dora.

My days here are peaceful, their lifestyle becomes mine.  I am mindful of and thankful for the pace of this household. There is no television during the day. There are no newspapers. We admire the gardens, especially the ones with Birds of Paradise in bloom, begonias the size of dinner plates, and citrus trees that will provide free fruit during their winter months.

Walking the dog after dinner, Arthur will speak Portuguese; sundowning, for him,  is using his primary language even when his body is in 21st century America.   Arthur followed Doris to America from the Azores when she was 17.  He worked in technology until eight years ago, when alcohol and diabetes disabled him.  The diagnosis of vascular dementia came three years ago.

He sweeps the driveway during the day and remembers the acorns that he would shovel at their former home in Massachusetts. He may speak of their two sons who still live back here, but it is not a spontaneous conversation. On Sunday afternoon when we watch the Patriots game,  Arthur does not mention Billy or Kevin, as that would dull his focus on the mechanics of the game.

If we are traveling late in the day, Arthur has problems with the seat belt in the back seat. Gentleman that he is, he has ushered me into the front seat, next to Doris; perhaps that disconnect results in the frustration with a seat belt that he is not familiar with.

We are running errands in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, the day before my flight home. We have watched the Weather Channel together, and Arthur understands that there is a big storm coming. He segues into Portuguese at lunch time.  Doris and I wonder if that is an unconscious fear of the storm or because the barometer is changing rapidly.  She will research that after the storm has passed.

Doris and I have an intense conversation that night. She is ready for the storm; their safe room is a walk-in closet with bedding, batteries, food, and water.  I ask how she will get him to leave the master bedroom on the other side of the lanai. She says that it will be a simple matter of telling him that she is afraid of the storm.  He will he protect her (and the dog) during the night.

A tranquil look appears on her face, “I’ve got my boyfriend back, ” she says, “and he is a good man.”

And so it is.

BOLLI Matters feature writer Lydia Bogar

Lydia’s writing for our blog has been evolving in nature and style since we hit the internet.  “Lines from Lydia,” as her column is now called, features her thoughts, memories, experiences, and concerns about everyday life–to which we can all, of course, quite easily relate.  Her easy going nature is clearly visible in her work!

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